Innovative treatments for individuals with spinal cord injuries can lead to significant functional improvements in patients and a higher quality of life, according to a series of rehabilitation studies published recently in the Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.
Most of the studies evaluated activity-based rehabilitative practices involving the assessment and improvement of patients’ motor or neurological functioning, whereas other studies evaluated patients’ overall health status. Practices like locomotor training, which consists of activities involving step training using body support on a treadmill, show promise for motor improvement in chronic spinal cord injury patients. Physical therapy and rehabilitation practices are being improved by computer and other technologies.
According to Sue Ann Sisto, PT, MA, PhD, professor of physical therapy, research director, division of rehabilitation sciences, director of the Rehabilitation Research and Movement Performance Laboratory, Stony Brook University School of Health Technology and Management and co-director of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network, a shift in protocol and policy is needed at rehabilitation centers to advance and standardize rehabilitative care for patients with spinal cord injuries.
“These studies provide scientific and clinical evidence from hundreds of patients that long-term rehabilitation practices such as locomotor training, exercise and wellness activities for patients with full or partial spinal cord injuries lead to improved health and function in patients,” Sisto stated in the release.